Terracotta Tiled Church Floor Renovated in Eaton Village

St Andrews church serves a large congregation in Eaton Village which is located just outside the city of Norwich on the south side. A sizeable extension was built onto the old church in the 1980s to accommodate the ever-increasing number of people wanting to attend and it was in this part of the building where a problem had developed with the Terracotta tiled flooring.

The tiles chosen by the architect were made from a surprisingly soft terracotta clay which had been sealed with an oil-based product (probably Osmo Polyx Oil or similar) but the coating generally had worn away badly, particularly along the main foot traffic lane up the aisle to the altar. The overall appearance was extremely tired and dull with wide lanes of ground-in dirt.

The clients asked us to clean the floor and replace the thin oil finish with something more durable and easy to maintain.

Terracotta Floor Tiles Before Renovation St Andrews Church Eaton Norfolk

Deep Cleaning Terracotta Church Tiles

Our first job was to remove the now very patchy finish and deep-clean the entire surface of the floor. This was achieved using a strong solution of Tile Doctor Pro Clean mixed with a generous quantity of Tile Doctor Remove & Go. The combined solution was left to soak into the Terracotta tile and grout for about twenty minutes before being agitated with a green scrubbing pad fitted to our rotary machine. The tile was so soft I felt that a black pad would probably have been too harsh and may have damaged some of the religious symbols which had been moulded into a number of individual tiles.

The resulting clay, dirt and sealer slurry was then power rinsed and vacuumed away with our Ninja machine. These machines force hot water under high pressure onto the floor and then extracts the resulting soiled water away with suction. It was an expensive investment for the company, but it certainly makes work like this much easier.

Any remaining soiling in the grout lines was removed by hand using Tile Doctor Oxy-Gel which is a more powerful but manageable gel form of Pro Clean. Also, there were a few really stubborn areas in the corners where the oil finish had pooled and hardened during application. To deal with these and completely remove the shiny patches it was necessary to use a 100-grit hand-held diamond block.

After a final rinse to remove any trace of cleaning product the whole floor was left to dry off overnight, assisted by two industrial fans and a commercial dehumidifier.

Sealing Terracotta Church Tiles in Eaton village

On returning to the church after the previous day’s cleaning, we spot tested the tiles across the whole floor area and found that the fans and dehumidifier had done their job and the substrate was easily dry enough to accept a sealer. We knew that a damp proof membrane had been laid under the floor at the point of installation, so moisture ingress wasn’t going to be a problem. What was an issue however was the high porosity of the clay tile now that it had been stripped of ingrained dirt and the old sealer.

I usually apply Tile Doctor Seal and Go to Terracotta tiles as it leaves the floor with an attractive subtle sheen, however we realised that the floor would probably soak up around a dozen coats or more if applied directly. With this in mind we decided to start with the application of two base coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow. Colour Grow is a penetrating sealer that would occupy the pores of the Terracotta tile, protecting it from within whilst enhancing the natural colour of the clay at the same time. This was then followed by six coats of Seal and Go which enabled us to achieve the desired level of durability and sheen.

Terracotta Floor Tiles After Renovation St Andrews Church Eaton Norfolk

When we had finished the work, this is what the client had to say:

“After careful consideration of several contractors, it was decided that Nicholas White provided the most sympathetic solution to our flooring needs and at a competitive price. The work was completed as promised with minimum fuss. At all times Nicholas and his staff worked in a professional manner and were totally respectful of their sensitive surroundings.

We were very satisfied with the final work and would have no hesitation in recommending this contractor to other potential clients. J Holmes, Warden St Andrews Eaton.”

Terracotta Church Floor Renovation in Norfolk

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Edwardian Clay Tile Front Pathway in Barnet

As you can see this Clay Tiled Pathway laid during the Edwardian period at the front of a house in Barnet, North London had suffered over the years and now had many broken and cracked tiles along the path. The concrete foundation had seen some movement in the past leading to a crack forming right across which had either cracked the tile or caused them to become loose.

Edwardian Clay Pathway Barnet Before Cleaning Edwardian Clay Pathway Barnet Before Cleaning

To restore the path to its original condition would require removing all the broken and loose tiles and then relaying with matching replacements and grout giving particular attention to the detailed edging pattern. Fortunately, having done a few of these jobs before I have learned where to find replacements and often keep an eye on salvage yards and ebay.

Edwardian Clay Pathway Barnet Before Cleaning Edwardian Clay Pathway Barnet Before Cleaning

Cleaning and Repairing an Edwardian Clay Tiled Pathway

The first job was to remove ingrained dirt and old coatings by applying a strong dilution of Tile Doctor Remove & Go across the entire length of the pathway. Remove and Go as its name suggests breaks down and strips off the old sealers as well as dislodging ingrained dirt. It was scrubbed in and then rinsed off with water and extracted using a wet vacuum.

Next some of the tiles which had experienced particularly stubborn staining were given an Acid Wash using Tile Doctor Acid Gel which removes old grout smears and mineral salts deposits which is often referred to as efflorescence. Acid Gel neutralises the alkaline salts and once scrubbed in it was removed using the wet vacuum.

Once the dirt and efflorescence had been dealt with, I focused my attention towards the tile repairs starting with the removal of the broken and loose tiles so I could get at the cracked sub-base and repair it. Once the repair had hardened I was able to relay the path using a mixture of exiting and replacement tiles taking care to match the original pattern. Before leaving for the day the tile adhesive had gone off and I was able to grout them in using a matching grout. I had also checked the weather forecast to ensure no rain was forecast that evening.

Sealing an Edwardian Clay Tiled Pathway

The weather held and the following day with a freshly cleaned and repaired path I was able to finish the job by applying two coats of Tile Doctor Colour Grow which really brings out the natural colours in the clay tile. Once the sealer had dried I ran a white buffing pad over the path to give it that final finish before showing it to the owner of the property who I’m happy to report was extremely pleased with the result.

Edwardian Clay Pathway Barnet After Cleaning

I should mention that when choosing a Sealer for an external application it’s important to choose one which is fully breathable and can cope with the wet conditions.

Victorian Tiled Pathway and Edwardian Tiled Hallway Restored in Palmers Green

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